By Dan Kelly, VP Strategic Accounts & Partnerships
The ever-accelerating pace of technological innovation, personalization and the corresponding decentralization of channel is presenting a new challenge for vendors. It’s estimated 73% of businesses purchase online due to convenience, and that 17% of all B2B transactions may occur online by 2023, while channel risks losing its top place in the buyer journey.
As the channel becomes increasingly decentralized, vendors are under more pressure and are consequently competing for share of voice and mindshare across an ever more varied channel eco-system.
The channel is changing, but there is a potential solution in data analytics. Harnessing data from performance programs allows companies to adjust to these changes and improve partners’ performance in the channel and accelerate their success.
The Challenges of Decentralization
The traditional channel – a chain from manufacturers down to resellers – has in recent years exploded into a breadth of different avenues, meaning there is less centralization, the ecosystem is becoming wider, and less central. As channel partners are split into different avenues, they become separate from each other – workers become decentralized.
In light of this, more and more vendors are having to accept that the way people buy their products and/or solutions is drastically changing. Marketplaces like Amazon allow consumers to get recommendations, research their products, and make a purchase all in one place, bypassing the traditional reseller route. Similarly, specialist system installers and consultancies also bypass traditional resellers.
With so many more companies in the channel, scalability becomes challenging, as well as differentiating themselves in an increasingly competitive ecosystem. Effectively communicating product value in comparison to the competition becomes more and more essential. Staying at the front of people’s minds in such a marketplace is challenging, and channel partners become split and isolated from each other.
Bringing Teams Together
To overcome these challenges, pioneering companies in a variety of industries – are now using smart data to automatically record and reward performance across the channel eco-system. For example, we worked with Honeywell* – the smart home and security solutions company – to introduce a performance program for partners. The program let channel partners receive points based on the achievements they fulfilled. These points could be redeemed for prizes in the integrated rewards catalog.
The result was a 1447% increase in sales claims logged, showing how a centralized rewards scheme brings together decentralized workers. Staff loyalty is an essential part of any organization, and it’s clear that rewarding workers fairly is key to encouraging staff positivity.
Incentivizing Your Employees
Companies are also using data to tailor incentivized learning for diverse sales channels, which includes personalizing rewards programs. Data is being used to design personalized travel incentives, from eco-tourism to extreme sports, to boost sales performance. This live data is giving organizations real-time visibility into sales performance and channel program success. Personalizing a participant journey by making it relevant to them, allows them to feel more engaged - all leading to greater productivity.
At Nuance*, we recommended launching an online channel loyalty program. The program was designed to focus partner activity to align with business needs; partners would be incentivized to log sales opportunities and drive conversations through the sales process. For incremental sales and fulfilling their objectives, we offered partners desirable rewards to encourage repeat behavior. Influencing micro-behaviors with incentive programs can lead to better outcomes for manufacturers. Communications plays a big part in this effort. Programs should communicate with individuals to gain accurate data on their interests, to better personalization.
Trends like data analytics are creating more personalization of products for specific audiences. Data is paramount to the success of incentive programs, as it can reveal the trends contributing to the success of the company, in turn impacting real-time sales.
The channel is constantly diversifying, with many micro-industries emerging, composed of specialist consulting firms, to serve niche markets. With the speed of technological changes occurring and customer demand for instant and customized solutions, manufacturers are relying on a distributed network of leaner and more agile solution providers.
When HPE* was looking for an innovative solution to bolster efforts for a new drive to increased ‘converged sales’, we created an online custom incentive program which involved the cross-selling of products and services from several business divisions. In order to create both awareness and excitement, we leveraged the combination of eLearning to encourage learning for rewards, and an incentive trip for top performers.
It’s clear that when used correctly, data is a powerful tool for bringing together an ever-decentralizing channel – allowing companies to incentivize their staff and improve loyalty among partners and customers.
Online incentive programs not only improve performance across distant and dispersed workforces but form an increasingly rich source of data on the hidden drivers behind sales across a complex ecosystem. Channel organizations can benefit from adopting these tactics early. In the next few years we’ll see more companies capitalize on the growing opportunity to increase visibility of their pipeline.
*These client programs were designed and created by CR Worldwide. 360insights have recently acquired CR Worldwide, another powerhouse sales incentive solutions provider. The move makes 360insights one of the largest global Channel Incentives Management (CIM) providers in the world – offering brands the most advanced platforms, tools and data insights to grow sales and ROI. Read more about the acquisition, here.